Former Colorado governor and Democratic presidential candidate John Hickenlooper said Friday the 11 million illegal immigrants currently living in the United States should be given 10-year visas "immediately."
Hickenlooper was speaking at Telemundo's presidential candidate forum in Miami when he made the comment about illegal immigrants in the United States, adding the visa would allow a path to American citizenship.
"What would be your plan for the 11 million undocumented immigrants that are right here in the country. Would you give them a path to citizenship?" a moderator asked.
Before answering the question, Hickenlooper responded to another question about a 2014 Wall Street Journal interview in which he said citizenship wasn't a priority for undocumented immigrants. The moderator mentioned that he walked back the claim and then repeated it in 2016 during an event with community leaders.
"I was talking about—when I talked to the Wall Street Journal about trying to find a way that the undocumented people in this country could go back and forth immediately and visit their families," Hickenlooper said. "What I would say with the 11 million people that are here now that we should give them a 10-year visa immediately, put them on a pathway to citizenship and make sure that if it takes longer they can have extensions."
"What I was trying to say at that time was the priority should be allow people to come out from the shadows," Hickenlooper said.
Hickenlooper was asked to clarify whether he would provide undocumented immigrants with a pathway to citizenship.
"Yes, of course. No, no I was saying the priority needs to be able to let them have freedom to actually work and to travel, but yes absolutely everyone deserves a pathway to citizenship," Hickenlooper said.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), also speaking at the Miami forum, similarly addressed the issue of illegal immigration. Sanders said that his Medicare for All plan would "absolutely" cover the 11 million illegal immigrants currently in the U.S.